20 Dec 2017

R.C. Sproul – A Former Protestant’s Gratitude

When I heard of R.C. Sproul’s death, my first impulse was to pray for his family and–since I am no longer Protestant but Catholic–for him. My second was to turn to my mother and say, “R.C. Sproul died two days ago.” Death has a strange, self-assured touch. Everything stops in its tracks, but the fact of it won’t register. Not truly a shock, it is more a suspension, a cessation of movement in the vicinity

Daniel Hyland 2
03 Nov 2017

In Defense of Baptismal Regeneration

This is the 5th post in a series titled “In Defense of.” Check out part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 4.  Baptismal regeneration is the process through which the Holy Spirit makes the recipient of the sacrament of baptism a new creation by forming a covenant. whereby . This is different from conversion, where someone repents of their sins and has faith in God (i.e. the thief on the cross next to Jesus).

Wesley Walker 1
06 Sep 2017

Spaces for Dissent?

I’ve always been intrigued by the phenomenon of “Catholics in dissent”—those who claim affiliation with the Catholic Church, but aren’t shy about registering their opposition to certain more-or-less authoritative teachings. At least some commentators have argued that “in order to protect the intellectual vitality of the Church’s understanding of itself, responsible dissent is not only allowed, it is required.” As a low-level dissenter from the official doctrine of my denomination—I don’t adhere to the view

John Ehrett 1
19 Jun 2017

Catholicism’s Uniquely Baptismal Theology

The basic doctrines that distinguish Christianity from all other religions have, at their root, assumptions that also differentiate Catholicism from all other forms of Christianity. I have spent some time illustrating this phenomenon in the case of several dogmas—the Incarnation, the authority of Christ, and the exclusive claim to grace. However, if you are just joining me now, don’t be daunted. Each essay is independent in its argument, since each one examines a different facet

Christian McGuire 9
03 Apr 2017

After Baptism

In January I began teaching a series of evening Bible studies on the early Christian church as depicted in the book of Acts. Each week we began by re-reading Acts 2:41-47 as the focal point of our ongoing study. Over the course of our time, we dissected the practices, rituals, structures, and leadership patterns of the early church. Most of our study was free from debate and controversy. However, when we finally came to the

Jarrett Dickey 1
06 Mar 2017

The Danger of Christian Primitivism

While writing my previous article that praised the virtues of Christian primitivism and its capacity to spark church renewal, it occurred to me that it would be appropriate to address the inherent dangers of Christian primitivism.  Simply put, Christian primitivism is an ideological viewpoint that attempts to restore Christianity to the original structures and practices of the New Testament Church because it is believed that the Church has strayed from its own foundation over the

Jarrett Dickey 8
17 Jan 2017

On Baptism (Part II)

This post continues my reflections on baptism, focusing on the covenantal and sacramental aspects of Christian baptism. Covenantal Theology Those beginning an exploration of historic baptismal theology will almost immediately run into the concept of covenantal theology. As commonly defined, a covenant is a formal agreement made between God and humans, typically one that only God is capable of upholding in its entirety. Christians of various stripes will interpret covenants and their implications differently, but,

Jacob Prahlow 3
11 Jan 2017

Water and Fire

There’s water in everything and everything is in water— except fire. Fire changes water completely: too much fire makes steam, which returns back to water as it cools; and too little fire makes ice, which melts. We are all steam engines: mostly water, with a fire in our bellies making us do more or less based on temperature and control. We can be hard to keep stoked up and fed with enough coal. Jesus didn’t

Kenneth O'Shaughnessy 0
05 Jan 2017

On Baptism (Part I)

Baptism has been on my mind lately, not only because there are some intriguing conversations taking place in the blogging world about baptism and American Christianity, but also because a member of my family is being baptized soon. In this two-part article, I offer some reflections on baptism, beginning in this post with the Bible and history and wrapping up with some musings on covenant and sacrament in the next. Baptism in the Acts of

Jacob Prahlow 5
12 Aug 2016

It’s Time to Stop Treating “Religion” Like a Bad Word

Earlier this week, Relevant Magazine posted an article titled, “Entertainment, Modern Worship and What God Really Desires.” In it, author Jesse Carey praises contemporary church bands like Hillsong, Jesus Culture, Planetshakers, Desperation, and others. While he does acknowledge some issues with the trajectory of modern “worship,” he affirms its usefulness and encourages readers, “Just because something has elements associated with ‘entertainment,’ doesn’t disqualify it from being worshipful. Game fans have reported weeping in response to

Wesley Walker 2
14 Jun 2016

Why I Chose to Be Re-Baptized

Have you ever had the chance to take a look at your life with the knowledge that it was about to come to an end? Everything you know is about to change. The world was once a familiar, safe, beautiful, and even happy place, but you are moving on, choosing to let go—exchanging what you don’t know for the promise of something better. Most people come to the end of their life with a firm

Charles Heyworth 5
26 Apr 2016

A Deductive Polemic for the Baptism of the Holy Spirit

The Pentecostals and Charismatics are the weird cousins of the Christian denominational family. They’re the ones that go on about how important it is to be “baptized in the Holy Spirit” and preach “the full Gospel” while they get slain in the Spirit and hold Jericho marches. But you usually just end up praying they won’t start speaking in tongues at the family reunion this year. The fervor of the Pentecostals and Charismatics for their

Justin Megna 4
05 Apr 2016

What John Calvin Taught Me about the Sacraments

By Peter Schellhase I became a Calvinist in my teens. Before this, my religious understanding had been stunted by my family’s involvement in a cult-like parachurch group. Reacting to toxic fundamentalism, I found new life in the rich soil of Calvinistic theology. Yet, after almost ten years, I was still a “teenage” Calvinist. Much like Jeff Reid, I had read many modern, derivative theological works in the Reformed vein, but nothing by the great Protestant

Peter Schellhase 3
22 Feb 2016

Is Sprinkling the Best Way to Baptize?

Here in the Bible Belt, sacramental Christians sometimes feel like the nerdy kid on the playground when it comes to explaining our practices of baptism.  In many Baptist, Pentecostal, and nondenominational congregations, baptism is only done “as John the Baptist did it.” That means getting dunked like an early morning cruller in hot coffee. For many in my part of the world, baptism means one thing: immersion. United Methodists actually aren’t against immersion (which is

Drew McIntyre 6
22 Jan 2016

Of Tribalism and Churches (Part II)

In my last post I outlined some of the contextual and doctrinal considerations surrounding my ongoing wrestling with tribalism and baptism. In today’s post, I attempt to apply these principles to my “on the ground” situation. All Things to All People? Saint Paul speaks of becoming all things to all people. Less helpful, at least for my purposes, is how far he expects us to go in order to meet people where they are. Building

Jacob Prahlow 2
12 Jan 2016

The Water Magician

Avestan was tired of the desert. Not the most astrologically-minded of the magicians, Avestan had wandered far longer than he had intended—not that any intend to wander to begin with, but once one starts wandering, it is hard to stop. Avestan had begun wandering one day when he tired of looking up all the time, and decided the stars really had nothing to say to him. Everything he needed was on his camel, his back,

Kenneth O'Shaughnessy 0
08 Jan 2016

Of Tribalism and Churches (Part I)

Recently I have been thinking about the topic of tribalism. By tribalism I mean adapting one’s behavior and thinking to accord with the group of people with which we are associated. I have been thinking a lot about this issue not because I am thinking about becoming a St. Louis Cardinals fan (my fellow Cubs fans will be happy to hear). Rather I have been thinking about tribalism in the context of baptism and the

Jacob Prahlow 2
19 Oct 2015

The Martian and the Water of Life

There’s a scene in the new hit movie, The Martian, which has likely disturbed some Christians. After realizing he is stranded on Mars for what could be years, Matt Damon’s character Mark Watney realizes he must grow food in able to survive, since the rations will only sustain him for a few months. He’s a botanist, so at least his knowledge will not fail him. The rations include a few potatoes, sealed and saved for

Laura Norris 7
20 Aug 2015

Bullet Points and Worldviews

Late last week, I found myself embroiled in a long online conversation with an acquaintance over my review of the recent film “Straight Outta Compton.” The movie, which charts the rise of controversial rap group N.W.A., is a well-made biographical drama that raises challenging questions. It also, as one might expect given the subject matter, contains a good deal of content that will be off-putting to certain viewers (and is undoubtedly inappropriate for audiences beneath

John Ehrett 2
29 Jul 2015

The Transformative Power of Paradox

As a theologically-minded young catechumen, on the cusp of being confirmed into the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod, few doctrines troubled me more than those surrounding the sacrament of communion. How could the Body and Blood of Christ be present “in, with, and under” the sacramental elements? How could the consecration of the elements, an act of human will, result in such a transformation? Years of soul-searching followed, which led me all the way from

John Ehrett 5